The Company Man

By Jack Engelhard

 

(Originally appeared in The New York Times)

 

I work for a big company. I’m small. I’m much smaller than the company. My boss told me so himself. He said, “The company is much bigger than you.”

 

I work out of a cell. The company calls it an office but to me it’s a cell. There are no padlocks on the door, except those that I see in my mind. I could escape, but to where? Another corporation? That’s all there is. I’m a company man.

 

I do everything that I’m supposed to do, 8 hours a day, 12 months a year. I get weekends off for good behavior. I get paid once every week, whether I need the money or not.

 

I don’t make trouble. I play second base on the company softball team. I attend company picnics and parties and laugh when I’m supposed to. I don’t sexually harass female colleagues – it’s against company policy.

 

But this is a bad time of year. It’s review time. That means I have to go before my boss and have him evaluate me. This goes on, I’m told, all over the country. People like me get reviewed.

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When Bad Things Happen to Good Computers

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

Well, it finally happened. My computer crashed. All my works in progress – gone! Fortunately, most of my novels are already published and listed on Amazon and elsewhere, so that’s good, and as for my journalism, well, that’s also preserved here and all over the Web.

 

I’ll bet I’m not alone in this. This has happened to everybody. We’re all at the mercy of technology and technology is not perfect. Stuff happens.

 

For some reason I equate all this with the economy, which also crashed, and I equate it even more with something almost cosmic, that our entire civilization rests upon the mercy and the good graces of a power higher up, beyond us mortals – in other words, we are all plugged in and, just like that, someone can pull the plug and plug us out.

 

Is this religion?

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Fiction Friction, News Blues

By Jack Engelhard

 

When I heard that an obscure French-born novelist had won the Nobel Prize, I thought it must be me and I began eyeing that red Cadillac. After all, I fit all three categories. I am obscure. I am French-born. I am a novelist. Who else could it be? A man named Jean-Marie Gustav Le Clezio, that’s who. Oh well, as we say in baseball (and the economy) – wait till next year.

 

I hope Le Clezio wins us over. This is not promising. There have been no long lines for preceding Nobel champs, big names like Orhan Pamuk and Elfriede Jelinek.

 

Hemingway got the jitters when he won it and in fact he wanted no part of it due to the jinx.

 

But I’m stalling. I’ve really come here to talk about THE DEATH OF THE NOVEL. The latest to have his crack at this is columnist Kyle Smith writing in today’s New York Post (Sunday, Oct. 12). He sums it all up, in my favorite newspaper, by saying (if not in those words) that, in this fast-paced age of technology, fiction does not speak for our times.

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“In God We Trust” and That’s No Lie

By Jack Engelhard

 

Who knew it would come to this? The psalmist knew.

 

Psalm 146 says this: “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.”

 

Princes, then as now, are people who run our lives, like politicians and titans of commerce – most of whom we trusted until some weeks ago.

 

Today we know that many of these men are beyond greed but deep into incompetence and crookedness. They’ve taken our money and run off. One crowd at one of those firms that got bailed out with our billions, well, as you know, they made themselves a party at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars. Whoopee!

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